European or national elections?

The Maltese example

, by Carly-Marie Caruana

European or national elections?

Ever since the 1st European election in 1979, there has been a fall in the average voting turnout. Yet the latest Eurobarometer results show that Malta’s trusts in the Commission and the European parliament, 59% and 64% respectively to be exact, is rather high especially when compared to the other European countries. However a good number of university students claim that they trust the national parliament more than that of the European Union.

Mainly this is due to misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the European Union. In a recent poll carried out by the European Parliament, it was found that three out of four people were “fairly” badly or very badly informed about the European Parliament. It is true that the European Union is a complex organization, but, as the English proverb states; you can take the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink. Although the information about the European Union affairs is there, it obviously depends on the individual himself to stay informed about what is happening. Are we really driven to know what is going on?

When asked why the national parliament is trusted over the European Parliament; students answered that they feel closer to MPs.

When asked why the national parliament is trusted over the European Parliament; students answered that they feel closer to MPs. This is because of perception. They feel that they are more aware of what is going on in the country, and can therefore address the country’s problems better. At this stage one may ask; how can we emphasize trust in the European Parliament? As MEP candidate Edward Demicoli, press and political officer at the European Commission representation office in Malta, pointed out, “this mainly depends on the candidates themselves, whether they decide to maintain contact with the people even after the election, and whether they decide to use constituency week effectively”.

In national elections 5 Members of Parliament are chosen from each of the 13 Maltese districts. On the other hand, in European elections these districts join to elect the 5 seats. Malta’s size makes it possible for the candidates to create a warm environment with the citizens; this is also due to their need for votes. Similarly it is rather easy for a Maltese citizen to address a MP for a favor. Yet who would go through the hassle of reaching a MEP to ask for a job for their elder son? So unfortunately this also affects the level of trust.

In order to increase trust in the EP, we have to first alter this mentality inherited from our ancestors, that of seeing politics in terms of what I can achieve, instead of what is best for the country. In all fairness, this way of thinking is slowly changing; however we still have a long way to go.

Image: Voting, source: google images

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